Tech Brief: Nano Rising

The Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies has reported that products making nanotechnology claims have more than doubled, from 212 to 475, since March 2006. (The group launched its online inventory of nanotech goods at that time.) According to the Center, “nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $50 billion in manufactured goods.” And, “since fiscal year 2001, the US has invested over $8 billion in nanotechnology research. In 2006 alone, over $12 billion was spent worldwide on nanotechnology research and development by governments and industry.” According to the group, the United States leads the nanotechnology pack, with 52% of the reported products. In second place was East Asia. The group maintains that the nanotech boom is just the beginning, and expects the number to grow rapidly over the next few years. To date, the flavor and fragrance industry has represented a tiny sliver of this boom.

Though definitions of what is—and is not—“nano” vary, the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) uses three criteria:a

  • “Research and technology development at the atomic, molecular or macromolecular levels, in the length scale of approximately 1–100 nanometer range.” (Just a fraction of the width of a human hair.)

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